High school chefs helping to keep things heart healthy for Hadassah

At Temple Isaiah in Lafayette on May 29, attendees at a heart health education event not only will lunch on salmon, roasted vegetables, quinoa and greens, but they also will get a taste of an innovative high school program that’s turning students into “food professionals” keen on healthy and sustainable cuisine.

Cindy Gershen at Mt. Diablo High in Concord

The food at “Heart Health for Women: Every Beat Counts” — an event sponsored by the Diablo Valley chapter of Hadassah — will be prepared by 15 students from Mt. Diablo High School in Concord.

The students are involved in the school’s International Hospitality and Tourism Academy and, more specifically, the Sustainable Hospitality Pathway, a program started by restaurateur and Temple Isaiah member Cindy Gershen.

After suffering a stroke in 2001, Gershen found that she wanted to make changes in her own diet as well as work with children to help them make better food decisions. In 2011, she began teaching nutrition and food service at the Concord high school.

“My students say they never knew how the food they ate made them feel bad before,” said Gershen, the chef and owner of Walnut Creek’s Sunrise Bistro and Catering, which she founded in 1981. “Being in my class, they started to become aware that they feel better when they eat real, whole foods that are low in sugar.”

Gershen provided the recipes for “The Fat Chance Cookbook: More Than 100 Recipes Ready in Under 30 Minutes to Help You Lose the Sugar and the Weight,” which was published last year. She also helped create the nonprofit Wellness City Challenge (www.wellnesscitychallenge.org) to promote nutrition awareness in schools and communities.

At the Hadassah event, she will talk about nutrition and diet. Other speakers include cardiologists and specialists in exercise and stress reduction. In addition, student chefs will talk at the luncheon about their program and share what they have learned.

The event is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. May 29 at Temple Isaiah, 945 Risa Road, Lafayette. $36 includes lunch. For more informatin, visit www.diablovalleyhadassah.org or call (925) 330-1656.

Faith Kramer

Faith Kramer is a Bay Area food writer. She blogs about her food at clickblogappetit.com. Contact Faith at clickblogappetit@gmail.com.